The presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania discussed cooperation, security, Belarus and the EU border at a joint meeting in Vilnius on Monday.
President of Estonia Alar Karis, President of Latvia Egils Levits and President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda discussed regional cooperation and security, climate change and energy, and the hybrid attack by Belarus on the European Union's borders, amongst other topics.
At a press conference in the afternoon, the presidents emphasized the "hybrid attack" orchestrated by Belarus is different from the migration crisis of 2015 and called for the European Union to pledge funding to build external borders.
Karis said Estonia is working on all levels to offer Lithuania, Latvia and Poland support. This includes bilateral, EU and at the United Nations Security Council.
"The situation at Belarus' border with the European Union and NATO is disturbingly tense due to the actions of the Lukashenko regime. The Belarusian dictator is playing with the lives of humans, directing them to the border in order to fulfill his political ambitions," Karis said.
All three presidents said they support triggering NATO's Article 4 if Poland decides to do so. Under Article 4, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
A joint press conference can be watched below with English translation.
Press conference by the Presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia https://t.co/4E2Z2oScUg— Gitanas Nausėda (@GitanasNauseda) November 15, 2021
Earlier in the day, the presidents held a meeting with President of Poland Andrzej Duda to discuss the events on the Polish-Belarusian border. The presidents pledged their support for Poland.
The presidents of the Baltic states meet annually to discuss cooperation.
Presidents' joint statement
After their meeting, the three president's jointly said and called for the following:
"Condemn the actions taken by the Lukashenko regime instrumentalizing migrants for political purposes;
"Are concerned for the human rights and safety of the migrants currently in Belarus, who are being forced to breach the European Union border, and urge to hold the Lukashenko regime accountable for human trafficking;
"Express full support for actions taken by the Republic of Poland to protect the EU's external border;
"Express their appreciation to the European Union institutions and agencies, in particular Frontex, and our fellow Member States for their support in this hybrid attack;
"Call on the European Commission to implement the European Council conclusions of October 21-22,2021 without delay by proposing the necessary changes to the EU legal framework on migration and asylum policy and providing adequate EU financial support for building physical barriers and infrastructure;
"Appreciate NATO Allies' solidarity and support for remaining vigilant against the risk of further escalation and provocation by Belarus through continued instrumentalization of illegal migration and for monitoring the implications for the security of the Alliance;
"Invite EU and NATO leaders to increase diplomatic efforts in the countries of origin of illegal migration;
"Call on all relevant international organizations to actively engage in resolving the situation created by the Lukashenko regime. The ongoing serious situation was addressed and assessed by the UN Security Council, and we call for concrete actions by UNHRC, UNHCR and IOM;
"Express readiness to continue supporting the Belarusian civil society."
Editor: Helen Wright